1st August, 2021
Lamont Jacobs succeeded Usain Bolt as Olympic 100 metres champion on an extraordinary Sunday for Italy at the Tokyo Games.
It was for Italy double athletics gold within a span of a few minutes, which even overshadowed a world record.
The 26-year-old Jacobs made the most of a wide-open blue riband event in the empty National Stadium as he stormed to gold in a European record 9.80 seconds.
He placed ahead of American Fred Kerley and Andre de Grasse of Canada.
Among the first to congratulate him was high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi.
Tamberi was still celebrating the gold he shared with world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim after both declined a jump-off in an extraordinary act of sportsmanship agreed.
If that was not enough action, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas got triple jump gold and bettered the 26-year-old world record to 15.67m.
Having already won football’s Euro 2020 and had a Wimbledon runner-up in Matteo Berrettini, Italy’s strong sports summer continued with now four gold medals in Tokyo, including the athletics double.
Born in the U.S with an Italian mother and American father, Jacobs decided to compete for Italy and arrived in Tokyo with a personal best 9.95.
He lowered it via 9.94 in the heats and 9.83 in the semi-finals to the continental record 9.80 in the final.
The 400m specialist Kerley got silver in 9.84 while de Grasse surely had hoped for more than a second straight bronze, in spite of a personal best 9.89.
Jacobs became the first European to get 100m gold since Briton Linford Christie in 1992 and is the first Italian to medal at all in the prestigious event.
Pre-race favourite Trayvon Bromell of the US went out in the semi-finals along with former world champion Yohan Blake.
It meant that Jamaica had no finalist for the first time since 2000 after the retirement of three-time champion Bolt.
European champion Zharnel Hughes of Britain false started in the final and was disqualified.
Tamberi and Barshim meanwhile both cleared all heights until 2.37m on their first attempt before failing three times over 2.39m.
They were then asked whether they wanted a jump-off for gold but declined and rather celebrated double gold.
Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus took bronze, also with 2.37, in a final which saw seven men over 2.33m.
“To share it with Marco is an amazing feeling. It is a great feeling. I’m really happy,” said Barshim.
Rojas decided the triple jump with her first attempt of 15.41m and with the last jump of the competition then soared 15.67m to better the mark of 15.50m.
Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets had set it in 1995.
Gold came after silver in 2016 behind Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen, who was no threat on the day, and world titles in 2017 and 2019.
“I am lost for words, I can’t describe this feeling and this moment. Gold medal winner, with an Olympic record, and a world record … Wow. It is a fantastic night,” Rojas said.
“I was looking for it, I knew we had that distance in my legs to get it today,” she added in reference to the world record.
Portugal’s Patricia Mamona got silver with 15.01m and bronze went to Spain’s Ana Peleteiro with 14.87m, both national records.
Earlier, China’s Gong Lijiao ended her long wait for gold in the day’s first final when she took shot put top honours with a personal best 20.58m.
This was after winning silver in 2012 and bronze in 2008.
Raven Saunders of the U.S took silver and New Zealand’s two-time Olympic champion Valerie Adams bronze.
”I am really excited to win this gold medal, I’m not only winning this gold medal, I’m also getting my personal best,” Gong said.
In preliminary action, world record-holder and world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway led the way into the 400m hurdles final with 47.30 seconds.
Rivals Rai Benjamin of the US and Abderrahman Samba of Qatar also qualified.
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico reached the 100m hurdles final with an Olympic record 12.26 seconds.
American world record holder Kendra Harrison also advanced, and so did world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa in the 400m heats